Someone recently bought our

students are currently browsing our notes.

X

Mods Iliad Revision Short Notes

Classics Notes > Homer's Iliad Notes

This is an extract of our Mods Iliad Revision Short document, which we sell as part of our Homer's Iliad Notes collection written by the top tier of University Of Oxford students.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Homer's Iliad Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Mods Iliad revision Women in the Iliad Key women
- Helen
- Andromache
- Hecuba
- Briseis
- Chryseis
- Goddesses: Hera, Aphrodite, AthenaWomen as causes
- Women cannot take part in the main action because they don't fight (Penthesilea?). They do however propel the plot:
- Abduction of Helen as cause for whole war Agamemnon taking Briseis as cause for Achilles' anger Agamemnon refusing to ransom Chryseis as causing the plague Trojans fighting to protect their womenfolk - Hector explaining why he must fight as he doesn't want Andromache to be enslaves Greeks too don't want to die and cause their wives pain

Women as objects
- Women who are being fought over have no control over what happens, particularly captive women like Chryseis and Briseis.
- They do have value - they are prized as desirable objects. Achilles offers them as prizes at the funeral games of Patroclus.
- They are passed around like pawns; they are the physical representations of the men's honour. The exchange of women reflects the men's power, whether this exchange is in war or in peace (marriage).
- They don't speak much. Chryseis doesn't even have her own name - she is just daughter of Chryses. Sphere of the women
- Description of Trojan women going about their everyday life, and the family life of Hector/Andromache adds pathos as we know this world will be destroyed imminently
- Book 6 shows the division between the world of men and women. Feeling that Hector doesn't belong there (bloodied hands, won't accept female comfort, rushes away).
- Hector says to Andromache 'go to the house and busy yourself with your own tasks, the loom and the distaff, and tell your handmaids to ply their work: and war will be a concern for men'.
- This world as contrast to world of battlefield, allows readers to compare, evaluate. Women's world closest to what men's is in peacetime.

Female motivations
- Women suggest there is alternative to kleos system, that life and family are worth cherishing. Women can't win kleos.
- Hector is pulled in two ways, as Andromache wants him to survive, the life of a family rests in continuity, his male obligations pull him to fight and die. Women with voices
- Chryseis is silent
- Women usually have speeches in the context of funerals, in lamentation, one of the only times when it is appropriate for them to speak. Gives them an important function as commentators on events and thus allows them to articulate some of the great issues of the poem.
- Briseis laments the death of Patroclus.
- Helen gives the background of the Greek men on the wall in 3
- Helen (3) and Andromache weave: artistic creators. They are in charge of what stories shall be woven, which events remembered. Metaphor of weaving as narrating
- In 24, the three lament Hector's death: they are not just bystanders, they are deeply involved in the action Hector and the women in book 6
- Hector's interactions with these women broaden his character
- First he meets the crowd of women, representing general apprehension in the city
- Hecuba meets him in front of the palace, symbol of the generations of Troy and his need to defend the city. She is anxious for him, addresses him as teknon, tries to get him to eat and drink. He refuses.
- Helen portrayed as a strong woman married to a weak man. Helen offers him a seat with sexual overtones. He refuses.
- Lastly he meets Andromache at the Scaean gates, the boundary between their worlds. Both try to enter each other's world. Hector had expected to find Andromache in the house/visiting a relation/making a sacrifice when she's actually watching the battle. Equally he is in the city when he should be fighting. They leave their spheres out of anxiety for each other. He refuses to stay behind
- These three scenes prepare us for book 22: we see his death first through the eyes of Achilles and the Greeks, then through the scream of Hecuba, which is heard by Andromache as she prepares him a bath. Death effectively described twice. We don't get the same female perspective with the Greeks (except Briseis)

Orality Composition of the Iliad
- Probably some time in the 8th century
- Mycenaeans wrote with Linear B but this died out in the Dark ages
- Writing with the Phoenician alphabet wasn't widespread until the 5th century so the poem was composed for a primarily oral society Repetition in the Iliad
- Characters often described with the same groups of adjectives ('epithets'): "Agamemnon, lord of men", "swift-footed Achilles". It's important that these stock epithets often exactly fill the cola created by caesurae. Normally not more that one metrically equivalent formula for a particular name.
- Lines and whole passages repeated verbatim
- Scenes like feasts or putting on armour often described in very similar ways ('type-scenes'). Paris arms in Book 3, Agamemnon in Book 11, Patroclus in Book 16, Achilles in Book 19. Order in which their armour is described is identical. Interpreting the repetition
- Analytics think the Iliad is a patchwork of earlier songs woven together by Homer. They try and find different strata within the poem.
- Unitarians believe it was composed by a single gifted author
- Milman Parry: Iliad is an orally devised work, composed in a tradition of formulaic language. Text must be composed in a way that makes it easy to remember.
- Research in Yugoslavia - South Slavic oral poets used similar techniques in the 1930s Oral composition
- If a stock epithet fills half a line, it gives the poet time to compose the other half
- Formulae act as memory devices, as does the metre
- Type-scenes give them structure for on-the-spot composition Interpretation of oral composition
- Some people thought it was infringing on Homer's creative genius to suggest his work was composed just to follow metrical rules. Prejudice from thinking oral cultures are inferior.
- When analysing words have to decide if a word is chosen by the author for literary or metrical reasons
- Sometimes epithets are well-chosen - Diomedes usually called 'loud-voiced' but this isn't used in the Doloneia - sometimes they seem entirely inappropriate.
- Epithets refer back to the character outside of the Iliad, 'traditional referentiality'.
- Homer could be very creative in other ways i.e. lots of hapaxes

-It's the differences within the type-scenes that make them interesting - Paris picks up one spear, Agamemnon takes two, Patroclus takes two, but not the spears of Achilles, which only he could wield. Achilles' description is much longer. Repetitions build associations running throughout the whole poem, linking passages far apart. Audience trained to compare and contrast such repetitions. Whole under-layer to the plotline of the story.

Heroic code Honour system
? Characters driven by need for honour while alive and dead, especially by slights to their honour.
? No concept of better afterlife - it's their reputation that will live on. Glaucus says in 12 that he wouldn't fight in the front rank to try and win glory if he could live forever Kleos
- Greek word for glory earned in battle, what people say about you, particularly after you've died. Hector in 22 doesn't want to die without kleos, by 'doing some great deed that future men will still hear of'. Motivates them to fight.
- Particularly relevant to those with divine parents - tantalizingly close to immortality. Achilles chooses immortal fame over a long life.
- Loss to time affects your kleos too - explains why Achilles is so cross in 1. Time
- Your perceived honour while you're alive: the public recognition of a hero's achievements
- Can win in battle, in assembly. Potential conflict? Agamemnon thinks he has the most because he leads the most men, Achilles thinks he is the best fighter.
- It's not an internal feeling or a moral compass - it's often material and physical, people can see how much you have.
- A man with much time gets more booty after a sack, sits in better positions, others defer to him in public, he's rich and wealthy (Sarpedon's speech in 12)
- Strong sense of it as a zero-sum system: where one man gains, another loses.
- Main plotline greatly affected by characters' perception of time. Think Menelaus/Helen, Agamemnon/Chyseis, Achilles/Briseis. A geras is more than a piece of booty, it's the symbol of the honour of the man who holds it
- If Achilles were acting within this system, we would expect him to agree to the embassy in book 9. He rejects a direct equation between time and material goods.

-

For Hector, time is also about duty to family and city.

Aidos
- Sense of shame that prevents people from acting badly, works in the opposite way to honour
- Hector seems strongly motivated by this, 'how would I look upon the Trojans, if I shirked battle like a coward', as does Diomedes in book 8, and Hector again in 22 when he doesn't go inside the walls because of Polydamas.

Homeric society Family - Hector/Andromache/Astyanax being pulled apart to save family of Helen/Menelaus/Hermione. Not that she is really mentioned....

Gods in the Iliad Nature of the gods
- Gods operate in a human manner- they often seem human, quarrelling etc. Poem suppresses the supernatural, i.e. in other accounts Achilles' armour is magical.
- Gods often appear in disguise. Only appear as themselves to favoured mortals, i.e. Athena and Odysseus.
- Characters often refer to a daimon/theos causing something - they don't know which god it is, we see them trying to figure out the gods. Causation
- Almost all the events would be comprehensible on a purely human level, including the motives for the war (no need for plan of Zeus). Many actions take place without the gods being mentioned
- A few wouldn't work - Paris disappearing to his bedroom in 3
- "double motivation" - one action is caused by both a god and a human at the same time
- There's a lengthy divine discussion about Pandarus in book 4, but is Pandarus who makes the decision to shoot the arrow. It's sort of irrelevant that it was a deity that advised him - he might have been planning on shooting anyway!
- Questions of moral responsibility - whose fault is it if a god persuades a mortal to do something bad (i.e. Paris in 3 being whisked off, Agamemnon claiming he was overcome by ate) There are probably gradations of responsibility depending on the circumstances.
- Gods as literary devices to externalise characters' thoughts and actions - Aphrodite making Helen go and see Paris in 3, externalises Helen being enraged with Paris but also still finding

Buy the full version of these notes or essay plans and more in our Homer's Iliad Notes.